I recently became intimately involved with democracy in Canada by acting as the “Official Agent” for our local candidate in the Provincial Election.
I have leafleted for the Labour Party in the UK in the past and I used to go to the occasional branch meeting and even proposed a motion once.
Following the death of Jack Layton and with citizenship pending, I decided to join the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP).
In August with a provincial election imminent I was asked if I would be prepared to be the Official Agent.
Now if you are the sort who only wants to back a sure fire winner you would run a mile. The Nova Scotia NDP were in government but very much behind in the polls. In our electoral district we were running against the leader of the opposition who was the favourite to become Premier.
When I agreed to be Official Agent it looked like we may have a month for me to familiarize myself with the duties of the official agent and start working my way through the 80 plus page manual. This was not however the case as less than a week later the writ was dropped and the election called.
One of the main responsibilities of being the agent is dealing with the money. Apparently Nova Scotia has a bit of a history of votes being bought in return for bottles of rum in the dim distant past – so now the candidate is kept well away from the money and the agent has to account for every paperclip and staple used in the election (not quite to that degree but it felt like it at times). Our candidate Henry was very helpful in providing copies of the last election accounts and file, although there was a new Election Act in place since that election. The NDP office was helpful as was our auditor (accounts had to be audited) and the Elections Nova Scotia finance people. It was all quite daunting at times but I seem to have managed ok as our returns were accepted and we passed our audit.
The NDP Government did not fair so well. We lost some great sitting MLAs and some fantastic people did not get elected who should have done. The NDP actually received the second highest vote (narrowly beating the Conservatives) but ended up with only 7 seats to their 11 to become the third party. The Liberals won a majority and our MLA became the Premier. My first involvement in Canadian politics was tough (due to the result) but I learnt a lot about the electoral system and met some fantastic people. It did not dampen my involvement as in February 2014 I became President of our local NDP branch and in April attended the NSNDP Convention in Dartmouth.
There has been a lot of criticism of the New Democratic Party (NDP) government in Nova Scotia.
I frequently hear that they are too close to big business or they are not radical enough or too right wing. I have some sympathy with these sentiments. I would prefer a party and a government with a more radical agenda and I would certainly describe myself to the left of Darrell Dexter. However, to paraphrase Mr. Dexter we are not choosing the perfect party to completely align with all our views and beliefs, we are choosing the best party among those on offer.
As a Labour party supporter in England under Tony Blair I had often experienced the feeling of disappointment that a party which was supposed to be of the labour movement was failing to meet that expectation. Many people wanted to get rid of the Labour government and foolishly voted Liberal Democrat in the election of 2010. The Liberals had painted themselves as more radical than Labour and fooled many people. Voting Liberal Democrat delivered a minority government and the Liberals formed a coalition with the Conservative Party which put David Cameron in Downing Street.
The resulting coalition in the UK has been the most backward looking reactionary government since Margaret Thatcher.
Voting against something can deliver you something far worse.
Nova Scotia is Better because of the NDP
NDP in Nova Scotia have:
increased the minimum wage when the Liberals and Conservatives voted against it
increased the age for free dental care from 10 to 13
bought the Bowater lands for the people of the province
introduced anti-discrimination legislation for transgender people
protected vast tracts of Nova Scotia’s land for the future
I truly believe that the NDP will be better than the Liberals and certainly better than the Conservatives. I guess some people were disillusioned with the Conservatives prior to 2009 and voted NDP as a protest… of course they may be disappointed by this government but I believe, on balance, they are the best party to lead Nova Scotia and will be getting my vote.
Last weekend we went to our third Paradise Moonlight Concert. We went in 2010 and again in 2011 but it was rained off in 2012 sadly.
This was the first with the boys. Every time I have been I have always been amazed at what a great community event this is. Entry is by donation, the music is great, you can park on the grounds (where helpful volunteers direct you into your space), you can bring your own refreshments and no-one is trying to sell you anything – marvellous!
Last night we went to the excellent fireworks in Annapolis Royal for the Natal Day weekend. They really put on a good show and the venue couldn’t be better, on Fort Anne, overlooking the Annapolis Basin.
This was our third year going and they seem to get better every year.
I have posted about how much I enjoyed AACUSS 2011 at Dalhousie that I attended as a delegate, then AACUSS 2012 I attended at UPEI as Secretary. AACUSS 2013 was altogether a different beast for me as I attended as part of the host organising committee.
It was a busy week but great fun and met some new colleagues from across the region and reconnected with some old ones.
These photographs were taken by Ryan Alguire, Miranda Collins and a few by me.
We applied as soon as we were eligible but after almost two years, we were finally invited to write our Citizenship exam and on my mother’s birthday we took our oath of citizenship and became Canadian citizens! It was a great ceremony and the citizenship judge Linda Carvery was charming and welcoming.
I spent 10 days back in England thanks to my old employers. I was asked to speak at a conference in London about the differences and similarities between student residences in the UK and Canada. One of my colleagues came over too and we also repeated the session up in Leeds. Here are a few photos from the trip.
The picture of the plane was the in flight entertainment system. I started watching The Hunger Games but watching children hunting other children and murdering them was frankly too disturbing.
Was great to get back to England – I miss many things about the old country – mainly family but also the country roads and old buildings. I was there when the Olympic Torch relay came through my home town and I managed to pick up a few bargains clothing wise too which were bonuses.